DOWNLOAD: D2G’s “Blood Diamond” mixtape

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I don’t care where the hell you are, you should download D2G’s “Blood Diamond” mixtape. This is his first solo project, and I started to rock with this dude on his and Vic Spencer’s “Hard Bars” tape, which was produced and mixed by my Twitter crush, Flyying Dutchman. I’m going to roll a bit of Strawberry Cough, give this a listen, and be back here with my review later tonight.

Check the fly shit and download this one, bitches and bitchettes: “Blood Diamond”

Gender roles in 2010? Part II

I “briefly” touched on the rise of men that are becoming dependent on women in my last blog. Some will say that there’s been a surge in sugar mamas, while others will point to an increase in laziness and complacency among men. What’s clear is a power shift, people.

I mainly wrote about how men and women seemed to have switched roles, in terms of professional and financial prosperity. Today, I will discuss the roles in society that we play versus what is expected of us.

One of my friends dumped her boyfriend several weeks ago. To be honest, I saw it coming from a mile away. He just seemed a little too wrapped up in my friend, and I know that she doesn’t want a yes man, but a man. When she broke the bad news, his reaction was…surprising. He left her a series of voicemails, crying profusely, begging for a second chance. “I’m not even sure what I need to change, but I’ll change, baby!” It was absolutely amazing, like seeing Bigfoot. You believe that he’s out there, but you can’t be totally sure until you’ve actually seen him. I’ve had male friends that took being dumped pretty roughly, but never had I experience anything of this magnitude.

What was even more surprising was my friend’s reaction. She played the voicemails on speakerphone for myself and a few friends, and then laughed as if her ex was telling the funniest joke known to man. This was not a giggle. This was a full-bore, cackling, loud ass laugh. It seriously amused her to know that her ex was being so “soft”. I admit, I laughed too, but not after thinking to myself, ‘What the hell is going on here?’

‘Have the tables turned?’ I thought to myself, again. I thought back to my own personal experiences with ending relationships, and how hard it was to get her to let it go. Don’t call crying or begging, because it won’t work. Yes, I get it, you miss me. That won’t help, either. Then I recalled how crude, cavalier, and callous I was, and was honestly, a little disgusted. After all, people can’t help how they feel, and I didn’t make the breakups easier by acting as if it weren’t that big of a deal. I just assumed that most women simply didn’t know how to accept that it’s over and would do whatever it took to somehow change our minds.

Boy, did my friend prove me wrong. It’s not just her that would’ve reacted like that, either. After taking the story to Twitter the following day, a number of women agreed that her response was warranted, and that soft, supersensitive men are not to be tolerated. Huh? I would’ve sworn that just a few years ago, all I heard from women is that they were tired of the over aggressive, rude, uncompassionate men that constantly approached them. I thought that they wanted sensitive men. Hell, I figured some of them even wanted a man that is in touch with his feminine side, too. What’s that saying about people that assume?

Now, I don’t believe that the tears and begging are becoming a staple of today’s men. But I do believe that women are flipping the script on us, whether they know it or not. Whether they’re doing it to be spiteful or because they genuinely feel a particular way, they’re certainly sending us into a whirlwind. It has us conversing with each other, trying to figure out whether men are indeed becoming soft. Talking about the possibility that maybe, men are just being honest about their feelings for women for a change. So many of us do things to cover up our love and appreciation for our women, that now, expressing such feelings seems a little odd. Especially seeing or hearing a grown man cry over a lost love. ODD.

I have more than a few female friends. They all feel free to say what they want around me, which I sometimes regret. To hear them talk about men the way my male friends and I talk about women (sometimes) is definitely something that has captured my attention. This is not the typical, tv, “girl talk”. They don’t sit around playing gin, drinking tea in their Sunday best. The way men discuss their sexual prowess and escapades, my female friends do the same. I’m sure the discussions get even more graphic when I’m not around. They’re not afraid to express their desire for sex, either. Scrolling through their phones, checking text messages, and listening to voice mails, trying to decide on who their next conquest will be. The only big difference between my female friends and my male friends is that my male friends tend to discuss sports more often.

Which brings me to my next point. Have you noticed how many women are sports nuts now? No, I’m not talking about the women that cheer for a team based on their colors, or how cute the players are, but women that are actually knowledgeable. Women that recite stats and player biographies as if they’d spent the night cramming for an exam. The ones that are sitting in a sports bar with their eyes glued to the television sets, and not the other guys in the place. There are more female sports reporters, journalists, anchors, broadcasters, and commentators. Women are taking their knowledge of sports to the internet, posting blogs, and hosting podcasts. A perfect example would be Blackhawks fans on Twitter. I can assure you that women are their biggest fans, and hockey is about as violent (and because of fighting, slightly more barbaric) a sport as football. And yet, the women I follow go absolutely apeshit over the Blackhawks and what happens on and off the ice.

Physicality, aggressiveness, and assertiveness are displayed by more women, also. I am perfectly aware of the “Girlfights” DVDs, but that’s not what I’m referring to. Submissiveness doesn’t seem to be on the mind of many women today. The word “bitch” has never flown with women, but now they’re doing more than asking, “Who are you calling a bitch?!” I’ve seen both young girls and women “throw hands” at the drop of a dime. And they scrapped. We’re seeing loads of fiery competitiveness and at times, belligerence in sports, with soccer player Elizabeth Lambert and tennis player Serena Williams serving as “fine” examples. I hear more profanity and foul language from everyday young girls and women, too. You’ll hear it sometimes when women joke with each other, similar to that good ol’ boy, fraternity brother ribbing that men are known for. We are starting to hear more and more women speak out for what they believe in, and this was before Hillary Clinton decided to run for president.

Are the “gender roles” in the process of full reversal? I doubt it. As long as men and women continue to put up fronts, we’ll never know everyone’s true intentions. There are men that portray Cassanova, knowing deep down inside that they’re as soft as Charmin, and women that give off the images of harlots when they’re really hopeless romantics. I don’t think it’s as much about a reversal in gender roles as much as women feeling truly tired of being placed in a dainty, pristine little box, and want to be free to do and say as they please, which is the same luxury given to men. And I definitely don’t have a problem with that, ladies…

P.S. I miss Karen!!!

P.P.S. #shoutout to Billie Frechette, Elle Boogy, Sarahsota, Peach, LJack, Moksha, Lara, Krys, Jean Grey, Martina (who I haven’t seen in EONS), Kiy, Ducy, Sam-I-Am, and Ambuh, my homegulls…

Gender roles in 2010? Part I

Yes, there will be a part 2…

While watching the news a few days ago, I heard a statistic that didn’t really surprise me. In 1970, only 4% of men “married up”, while now close to %22 do the same (Here’s a more in-depth story: http://www.npr.org/templates/story/story.php?storyId=122612096&ft=1&f=1003) . In other words, in 1970, only 4% of men married women that had higher salaries and more education than them. I believe part of the reason for this is a reversal in gender roles. 40 years ago, it wasn’t common to see so many women graduate from college with their Bachelors, go to graduate school, and pursue a lengthy, successful career afterwards. Women 40 years ago were fighting Title IX opposition, so I can be sure that they weren’t given the same opportunities to do well as men were. It was almost an unwritten societal rule that a man was supposed to not only find a wife, but care and provide for her and the rest of the family until death do them part. You really would have had to dig deep to find a family where the wife earned more money, had a better education, or better job than her husband.

From personal experience, I know more women that are in school, working towards their careers, or have already begun their careers, than men. Granted, there are more women than men, but I’m speaking in terms of ratios. I figure that out of every 100 women I know, at least half of them are being productive, while that number is much lower for the men that I know personally. It’s not as simple as “women are better than men”, but in my opinion, slightly more complex.

Blame goes to the NBA and LeBron James, partly. Yes, it’s been six years since he made his NBA début at the age of 18. I understand that a rule has been put in place requiring high-schoolers to attend college for at least one year before entering the NBA Draft. I’m also fully aware that every guy to enter the draft after high school has not enjoyed James’s success. Still, there are dozens of thousands of little boys across the country that want nothing more than to be the next LeBron James. They dedicate their lives to basketball, and put academics on the FAR back-burner. Some of these same little boys go through high school intent on being the best prep basketball player in the country. They then go to college, where they are treated like royalty and basically told that even though their title is “student-athlete”, they are enrolled in school to make the basketball program better. A college basketball player only needs to attend classes for the fall semester to be deemed eligible by the NCAA for the fall AND spring semester. There are many freshmen that are students for only one semester so that they can be athletes for both. With no one to step in and bring up the fact that this loophole is constantly being taken advantage of, many 18 and 19 year-old boys continue to do the same thing. Some enter the NBA Draft, are selected, and completely forget about the college education that they abandoned. Occasionally, you’ll hear of an example like Carmelo Anthony, who only went to classes for the fall semester before entering the NBA Draft. After he was drafted, he vowed to finish his degree at Syracuse University, which he is working towards. But how many failures do you hear of? How many cautionary tales have you heard about a 20 year-old that skipped college to go pro, only to have his dreams dashed, and left with no way to pay for college afterwards?

On the flip side, there is no role model like that for young girls. Candace Parker is a force, but her popularity is nowhere near LeBron James’s. She has been described as dominant, innovative, and transcendant. Those are three words that have been used by many to describe LeBron James, but you wouldn’t know it based on the ads, exposure, and their salaries. James made a little more than $4 million as a rookie, while Parker made a little less than $45,000. James signed a $100 million contract with Nike at the age of 18, and Parker has her picture in a few Adidas ads in select stores. To go back on what I said earlier, Parker IS a role model for young girls everywhere. But girls that believe in realism understand that even if they’re better than Parker, they won’t be anywhere as popular as LeBron James. No puppet commercials. No very own shoe. Popularity in the USA, but a lack of global appeal. A WNBA player would have to double what Michael Jordan did in his playing career to even make half a million dollars. That is unlikely, seeing as how the WNBA salary cap will be at under $1 million for this upcoming season.

James never stepped foot in a college classroom. As a matter of fact, I doubt that he even took an unofficial campus visit. Parker attended the University of Tennessee in Knoxville for 4 years and graduated with her incoming class with a degree in Sports Management. While James will most likely play pro basketball for the next decade and make hundreds of millions of dollars in the process, Parker will struggle to make $100,000 a year, but at least have a degree to fall back on. Because the money and fame isn’t there for WNBA players, I believe that’s why you see many more college-educated players in the WNBA than the NBA. Most of these women don’t really have a choice. They HAVE to graduate from college, because they can’t solely rely on their basketball career as a way to provide for themselves and family. Even with endorsements, top WNBA players still don’t make as much as players in the NBA that earn the league minimum, which is slightly over $1,000,000.

Part of the blame goes to rappers, other entertainers, and people in power positions as well. Yes, women are big figures in the entertainment industry, but in terms of who runs record labels, publishing and production companies, you simply don’t see many women in that place of power. We think of men more often than women when we’re asked about famous directors, producers, authors, composers, writers, et cetera. Obviously, it’s not because women aren’t qualified to hold these jobs, because we all know strong, powerful women. I believe that there’s an idea that a man sitting as CEO of a corporation will garner more respect, admiration, and fear than a woman. So many young boys have dreams of running a record label or being partner of a law firm, because they feel that’s what they’re supposed to do as an adult male. Young girls have these same aspirations, but I don’t think feeling entitled has anything to do with why many of them pursue their dreams. It’s a different mindset in the classroom between boys and girls(which will be discussed in part 2).

Cam’ron scoffed at the idea of going to college on a mixtape that I owned. He didn’t understand why anyone would want to go to college so they could toil and sweat for 4, 5 years, graduate, and then have to pay back a large amount of student loans. Do you think that message seeped through to more men or women? Do you think more men or women share that thinking with Cam’ron? It’s like Gucci Mane and his love of bricks, money, loose women, and guns. One can’t honestly believe that women are as likely as men to emulate Gucci’s lifestyle. Part of the male persona is machismo. We don’t want to admit when we’ve been screwed over, played, treated, carried, or whatever you want to call it. If that means a few of us forgo college because we don’t want to be saddled with ridiculous student loans or continue to live by certain rules and regulations as “adults”, missing out on a chance to better our futures, so be it. Being 28 with no job is not as embarrassing as being 28 and working at McDonald’s to more men than you think. Most of us want to be seen as providers, and it’s hard to be seen as that when you’re a grown man making minimum wage as a cashier at McDonald’s.

Have men become lazier? I can’t say. Are there more men looking for a woman with money? Of course. My question is: Is that SO wrong? Let’s face it: More women have more to give. It’s caused some complacency amongst men, I admit. But weren’t women the same years ago? I’m sure that 50 years ago, plenty of women married men for money, or to be simply taken care of. Again, I fully acknowledge that this was not because of shallow reasoning, but more out of necessity. However, it still happens now. Tell me with a straight face that you believe even half of professional athletes’ wives married them for their personality and I’ll jump off of the Willis Tower.

Ms. Frechette and I talked about our mothers (both in their 50s) and what was expected of them as women when they were in their 20s. Not much, we agreed. A little bit of the 1950s remained in the 1960s and 1970s. Many women had more of a want to find a husband than those that wanted to pursue their professional career. I don’t believe the average 70s woman entered college intent on completing their Bachelors and building off of that. I believe that because of what society deemed to be important then, more women were looking for potential husbands, as college is not a place for slackers. Although I’m not completely sure, I don’t think that a single woman celebrated her “singlehood” 30, 40 years ago the way women do in 2010. Being a single woman in your 20s in the 60s and 70s was not “normal”, and was frowned upon by some people. It was rare to find a woman established because of her own work and not a man’s back then, and it seems things have changed, for the most part.

Men have become more aware of the abundance of successful women, and some feel that it’s our turn to reap the benefits. It’s our turn to be taken out to dinner. We shouldn’t have to reach for the check everytime. Women can pay bills, and give us money when we’re in need. Women can buy us gifts, and not just because it’s Christmas or our birthday. For years, men were expected to run the household, and with so many women that are highly capable of doing the same, some men want to sit back, relax, and be catered to for a change. We see the number of women that own homes, pay their own rent, and drive their own car. Hell, even Jamie “I’m Getting Too Old For This Shit” Foxx released a song about a woman who “got it on her own”. Independent women are being celebrated more than ever. Whereas a single, successful woman was seen as some type of freak show years back, it is slowly becoming the norm. The way women once did, more and more men are latching onto these women and holding on for dear life. I don’t condone this behavior from men, but maybe there’s been a reversal in gender roles…finally… STAY TUNED FOR PART II…

P.S. I miss Karen!!!

P.P.S. “Like, I know, right?!”–Sarah Longwood, my favorite Valley girl…

It’s a woman’s world…

Fellas, have you ever really listened to James Brown’s “It’s A Man’s Man’s Man’s World”? Really, you only need to listen to the first two lines of the song to understand what James was really trying to say through song:

This is a man’s world, this is a man’s world
But it wouldn’t be nothing, nothing without a woman or a girl

If you still don’t understand:

You see, man made the cars to take us over the road
Man made the trains to carry heavy loads
Man made electric light to take us out of the dark
Man made the boat for the water, like Noah made the ark

This is a man’s, a man’s, a man’s world
But it wouldn’t be nothing, nothing without a woman or a girl

Man thinks about a little baby girls and a baby boys
Man makes then happy ’cause man makes them toys
And after man has made everything, everything he can
You know that man makes money to buy from other man

This is a man’s world
But it wouldn’t be nothing, nothing without a woman or a girl

He’s lost in the wilderness
He’s lost in bitterness

Now if you still think that Brown was saying that this is strictly a man’s world, you might want to re-enroll in grammar school and brush up on Reading and Comprehension. Brown lists some of the significant contributions that man has made to our society. Not people, but men. Cars, trains, light, boats, et cetera, yes, we are given credit for their creations. We are supposedly the breadwinners, providers, and supporters. Still, James knows that we (heterosexual men) are NOTHING without women.

Often, it is brought up, whether on tv or the radio, or in movies, that women seem to run on a biological clock. Not because women understand that it is harder to have a healthy baby as they get older. Not because women want to be middle-aged and not a senior citizen while their child is a teenager. But because society has unintentionally told women that a woman is practically a failure if she’s over the age of 30, single, and with no kids. Many women know that this is not a written rule, but still fret over finding a husband and starting a family before they get “too old”. Too many times, women end up settling in fear of being 35, still single, with no kids. Some see their friends get married and have children at a relatively young age, and it in turn puts pressure on them to have the same things, even if she knows that it is not right for her or just plain unnecessary. Subconsciously, so many women find themselves looking ahead to their wedding day without even first finding someone to meet at the altar.

Do men work on a biological clock? Fortunately, no. It is not self-imposed or something that the media has pushed upon us. A man at 35 (most times) doesn’t feel as if he’s nearing the end of the road. In fact, a good number of men at that age feel as if they’re simply entering a second phase of manhood. There are too many examples of older men that became fathers to children of young women. Men that turn 40 and decide to “live it up”. Are we self-conscious? Absolutely, yes. The biggest difference, in my opinion, between men and women is that while women either aren’t afraid to show it or think that it’s acceptable for a woman to show such behavior, men don’t want ANYONE ELSE to know of our insecurities. Our fears. That we doubt when we say we’re confident. Some of us are truly frightened by the prospect of being single for the rest of our lives. Some worry that we won’t have a son to carry on our legacy. Or a daughter to walk down the aisle. Or that a woman will never see us for the good men that we are, but the dogs that a few portray.

This is a woman’s world, dammit. Pretty much everything that heterosexual men do, we do it for women. It could be something as simple as buying a new tie or getting a haircut. Or something on a larger scale, like buying a new article of clothing, car, or house. Some of us were told when we were younger that we do these things to attract a mate. I’ve never liked “finding a mate” (sounds animalistic), so I’ve always preferred to believe that men go out of their way to find a good woman. Are there false intentions? Of course. There are most definitely men that work so they can waste their money with the hopes of impressing a woman. There are men that buy a car they know they can’t afford, with the belief that they’ll be able to attract a plethora of women. Men lie about their jobs, salaries, cars, and even their living situation if it means they’ll be closer to landing a woman. At the same time, women approach men with false intentions all the time, so we’ll call that a wash.

The average man probably won’t admit it, but we NEED women. No, not just because without women, none of us would be here. And no, not because of the obvious: SEX. Rather because we feel complete when we have a good woman by our side. Again, that’s something the average man probably won’t admit, but I believe it to be true. For the most part, the single life is wonderfully awesome. You have a chance to better yourself, and focus only on your desires and wants. Still, it gives a man a great sense of pride to know that he is with a woman that is loyal to him. It’s an ego trip. The machismo kicks in. We want to do everything in our power to make our women happy. Regardless of color, race, and age, that’s what most men want. We look at you, and want to be better men in every way, shape, and form. Right there. On the spot. We want to be everything that you’ve ever wanted in a man, and then some. Men can go through life acting like they’re still on the playground. Still high school jackasses. College frat boys. Even board room assholes. All of a sudden, we want nothing to do with any of that when we find the right woman.

Regardless of what a man or woman tells you, not all of us are inconsiderate pricks. When a relationship is over, not all men pull out their cell phones to the tune of “On To The Next One”. We don’t all refer to women as bitches, hoes, skanks, sluts, skeezers, broads, and the like. Yes, some of us actually cry after a break-up. Some of us sit up at night wondering when we’ll finally find Ms. Right instead of Ms. Right Now. It’s frustrating for many of us to know that we wear the label of “liar”, “cheater”, or “dog” because a few of our brethren have screwed women over. It hurts even more to see a good woman mistreated. We look at men like Tiger Woods, Chris Brown, Eric Benet, our fathers, uncles, cousins, brothers, and friends, and understand why so many women feel hopeless. We know that many of you want to give up on us, and some of you actually do. But we will ALWAYS need you. Without women, we would indeed be “lost in the wilderness” and “lost in the bitterness”. And as long as that’s the thinking amongst mature, responsible, and sensible men…IT’S A WOMAN’S WORLD…

P.S. I miss Karen!!!

P.P.S. #shoutout to my Billie Frechette, the dopest getaway driver a dude could ever ask for…

Yeah…I don’t do New Year’s resolutions…

Seriously, I don’t. I touched on this briefly in another blog, and I think that I gave a pretty decent explanation for why I feel this way. To be a little more in-depth…

I think New Year’s resolutions are stupid. If you want to better yourself, more power to you. I encourage it, actually. So many people nowadays are content with their current position, that they fail to realize that unless you’re perfect, you can always improve. But to screw around for an entire year, and on the last day of that year decide that you’re going to somehow be more productive, efficient, successful, etc….is sad. Millions of people do this every year. And what’s even sadder is that most don’t make any forward progress in reaching their “goals”. From “I will stop smoking” to “I will be a better man” to “I will donate to charity”, these are resolutions that usually go ignored after several weeks of the new year, anyway. This laziness often shows up in relationships. When it’s brand new, one makes sure to be on the ball as much as possible. Once the relationship gains weight, the little things stop. There’s a routine. A sense of accomplishment comes into play, and the relationship eventually suffers.

I have some advice: Do better…no…BE better, 365 days a year. No one expects your “A” game everyday, but I know that I expect an earnest effort. If you can’t put forth at least a decent effort, maybe you should isolate yourself from the rest of society and forget about New Year’s resolutions. Nothing can save you. You’re like Paris Hilton in a college classroom: a lost cause.

I think it’s safe to say that my 2009 won’t be listed among my favorites anytime soon. It started off at a wack New Year’s party with a girlfriend that I later discovered was just going through the motions. Somehow, an engagement followed. A few months later, we split like cheerleaders at a competition. Disappointment and heartbreak decided to pay me a visit. I quit my job not long after, and sleptwalked through a sub par summer, highlighted by bad weather and boredom. I figured I’d have to chalk the year up as another “lost year”, try to start anew, and then…

Things started to turn around once I was introduced to Billie Frechette. I had to remove someone from my circle, but it was well worth it. Time passed, Billie and I became closer, and we began committing crimes on a nightly basis. To cap my 2009, I spent the last few days of the year (and the first of 2010) knocking over banks and stealing cars with Ms. Frechette. The majority of 2009 may have been something I’d like to forget, but the end filled me with optimism for 2010.

Although I was involved in a failed relationship, I never felt as if I needed to make a resolution to be a better boyfriend. I gave that relationship, and her, everything I had. My friends know how to get in touch with me, and I let them know whenever I can that I’m here for them. I don’t need January 1 to start practicing loyalty or trustworthiness. My Granny B would get my last dollar if she needed it, whether at the beginning or end of the year. The same goes for the little brah. And Billie Frechette. Everyone in my circle will be treated as if they were in my circle ALL YEAR, and they’ll get nothing less from me.

Life is too short to drift through a year without worries, and then try to turn it around for the next year. I may be only 24, but I just don’t feel that I have that kind of time.

I remember one of my friend’s father telling me, “New Year’s resolutions are for people who know they’ve just wasted an entire year.” Mr. Nathan, I now know what you were talking about…

P.S. I miss Karen!!!

P.P.S. #shoutout to Granny B, Adam J, Billie Frechette, Charity, Little Jackie, Lauren, Jon, @CrimeDoesPay, Peach, Tiara in her tiara, Sarahsota, Brian, Amber Rose Jr, Mary, Miss DJ, Fowler, Nani, Quick, Lauren Jackson, Christian, SonyaRoi, James, Chip, Dion, Phil, Manny, Big Ron, Little Ron, Tenisha, Cause, J-mar, Vito, Dina, D, Jonboy, Ali, Darrell, the Animal House, all of my Sigma, Zeta, and Spartan family, and everyone who strives for excellence everyday, and not just December 31, at 11:59 PM…

Merry Christmas!

I’ve had a pretty good Christmas. I’ve stuffed my face, smoked plenty of loud, and received some dope ass gifts. Thanks to #myfavoritenerd, I was able to buy some ILL Bo Jacksons. A card here and there, a sweater sandwiched in between some flannels, and some fly denim to boot along with a few phone calls from friends. Today I was reminded of my favorite Christmas was in 1992, when my mom bought me a Super Nintendo. That was my favorite because the SNES was God to children back then, and I was one of the first in my class to own one. I’m kind of in a gray stage with Christmas now. I’m 24, so I don’t have the same youthful exuberance that I did when I was younger during the holiday season. I’m not married and don’t have any children, so I don’t get the same joy out of giving to others as parents, grandparents, et cetera. I actually get more excited because I know the end of the year is near. I’m not really the type to go out and do it real big for New Year’s, but I enjoy the idea of starting a new chapter, even if I finish it as fast I finished this one(2009).

 This is the fifth Christmas that Karen has missed, and I’m sure that her corny ass would’ve been up mad early, watching some lame parade, talking on the phone to her best friend, Charity. I still think it’s awesome that when my little brother and I were young, she told us that she’s Santa, and not some overweight white guy with a beard that lives at the North Pole. She was grooming us for the “real world”…when I was 7 and he was 4. Thanks, Karen.

My lungs can take a few more L’s, so…  P.S. I miss Karen!!! P.P.S. #shoutout to everyone that’s enjoying Christmas and preparing for the New Year

It’s just hustle and bustle. Gosh…

"The Look"

I love Kalamazoo, Michigan. And East Lansing, Ann Arbor, Ypsilanti, and Grand Rapids, Michigan. I love Madison, Wisconsin. I love Bloomington, Indiana. I was there briefly, but I didn’t mind Bridgeport, Connecticut. I love Fort Worth, Texas, and Lithonia, Georgia. I even love Evanston, Illinois. But I’m in love with Chicago. I love the 3,000,000 complaining, whiny, lovely, friendly, ornery, kind, snobby, down-to-earth citizens of this great city. I live under a corrupt mayor, and a governor that I don’t fully trust. As a citizen of Chicago(Cook County)I realize that I pay the highest sales tax in the COUNTRY. And that our public transportation system is in shambles and there have been talks of fare hikes and employee layoffs…but I love it. Streets & Sanitation collecting your trash at 4:00, and postal workers delivering your mail at 3:00. Love ‘em. The police department that understands that Chicago is Gang Capital, USA, and therefore waits until the shooting and killing is over and done before intervening. Or the same department that writes tickets like madmen and women near the end of the month in order to make their quotas. Love ‘em. Going to a Cubs game at Wrigley Field on a summer day has to be one of the greatest things that a human being can do during his or her life. Granted, the drunks sometimes ruin the experience, but simply seeing a historical landmark more than makes up for that. Attempting to decipher the slang in each area can be a little difficult, but also interesting as well. Hipsters in Wicker Park, academics in Rogers Park, party animals in Lake View, older people in South Shore, and families in Chatham. Lake effect snow, which I’ve experienced basically my entire life. I love how the weather can go from 82 degrees with not a cloud in the sky one day, to 64 degrees and biting winds the next. In no way, shape, or form do I enjoy the beach, but even I love how magnificent it looks during those great summer days. State Street and Michigan Avenue look absolutely gorgeous during the Christmas season. I crave Chicago-style hot dogs and pizza when I’m on the west side of the city, and chicken and burgers when I’m on the south side. I’ve found myself downtown, eating a barbeque chicken pizza one night, and fettucini alfredo and veal parmigiana the next. I love how shitty the streets are when the first snowflake falls to the ground. Bless those horrible, indecisive, overly aggressive, insanely passive bad-weather drivers, too. The cultures of each Chicago public high school are something that I fondly remember. I can’t forget those red-light cameras that have been less than friendly to most Chicago drivers at one point or another. Chicago is also home to fans of the most disappointing professional sports teams that you can think of. Die-hard Bears and Cubs fans fill up Soldier Field and Wrigley Field every game, respectively, and the Bears and Cubs collective championship drought is 125 years(with the Cubs on the hook for 101 of those glory-filled seasons). We have a hockey team, the Blackhawks, that was pretty much dead before last season, and another baseball team, the White Sox, that last won a title in 2005…and no one cares or cared. Our most successful teams of the last decade are a minor-league hockey team, the Wolves, and the Fire, a soccer team. And I’d STILL tell anyone that Chicago has the greatest sports teams and fans on Earth. Michael Jordan did his part to put us on the map. As did Kanye West. Amd Chaka Khan. And Bill Murray, and Jim Belushi. President Obama calls Chicago his home, and Oprah became a billionaire in this city. We do have a little bit of an inferiority complex, which might stem from the nickname “Second City”. But my glass half full self says that at least we’re the second-most popular city in America(which I translate to second-most popular in the world). Gotta love that we’re not third. I love seeing the guys that sell batteries, CDs, DVDs, watches, and tube socks EVERYWHERE on the south side of the city. I love the city’s many nicknames: “City of Wind” “The City of Broad Shoulders” “The Windy City” “The ‘Go” “Chi-Town” “The Chi” “GoIll”. The pride that most citizens here show is amazing. We don’t care that we don’t have a glamorous or sexy reputation. We don’t care that most of our celebrities go to New York or LA to “make it big”. There aren’t record companies on every block, or models at every club, bar, or lounge. It IS hard to make it in this city, but I still love it. I love my city with an unbridled passion that most that know me are fully aware of. I’ve enjoyed my time in the college towns and cities that I’ve had the opportunity to visit, but nothing(except maybe Kerry Washington, but we’ll save that explanation for another blog)beats home. GO. ILL. P.S. I miss Karen!!! P.P.S. #shoutout to everyone that can call themselves a citizen of Chicago

Word?

The winter has shown herself early this year. I’m not sure how I feel about that. Oh wait, I absolutely hate it. With a fiery passion that cannot be described beyond that. Growing up on the south side of Chicago and attending public schools made my hatred for the winter and its weather much stronger. When there were “snow days” for Catholic schools and suburban schools, public school students were often the ONLY students in the Chicago area attending school. I was naive as a kid, which is why I didn’t understand why kids would be treated that way. Didn’t they understand that it’s a snow day?! Being a public school student and growing up at my Granny B’s house didn’t help my relationship with winter, either. She lives in the South Shore area, about 20 minutes away from Lake Michigan. Anyone who lives near the lake(#shoutout to the Kenwood students, who have braved those winds)will tell you that when the weatherman calls for it to be 54 degrees, you might as well figure that to be 39-44 degrees if you’re anywhere NEAR the lake. I played baseball in high school, and our home field was separated from the lake by a beach and Lake Shore Drive. There were times when I could see the waves in the lake from shortstop, which was never a good sign. Baseball, being a mostly stationary sport(there have been plenty of games where I nearly froze my fingers off because I barely moved),makes it hard to keep warm. Unlike football–where there’s constant movement for about 2/3 of a 53-man NFL roster–some players on the baseball diamond aren’t involved in one play during the course of an entire game. That lake effect is represented by that damn wind. The wind that earned Chicago the nickname “Windy City”(actually, it’s more because of politics, but I’ll blog about that another time)or, more recently, “The City of Wind”. It bites. It pierces. It pinches, and sometimes, I think it punches. It’s not really the Chicago temperatures in winter that are frightening, it’s the wind chill factor. The temperature outside may be 37 degrees, but the wind chill factor can make it feel like it’s only 7 degrees, which is disturbingly cold. Truth be told, the winters in Chicago are a bitch. Getting dressed as a kid is a hassle, because your parents know that pneumonia and frostbite are easy to find if your not properly covered up. It affects the mood as well. Chicago is such a great city, but who really wants to go outside for any reason when it feels like it’s 4 degrees? People in residential areas go crazy. Fighting ensues over parking spots, and drivers skid across streets and crash into each other. Policemen aren’t very eager to answer calls, and the petty crime in some areas increases because of it. Shoveling is more than a chore, especially when you’re the only one in your house that is willing to get up early enough to do it. There is no chilling on the porch in the winter. There are no late-night trips to The Point, or walks down Michigan Avenue in the middle of January. Winter solstice comes on December 21, wraps her sold, spiny, ugly fingers around my city and doesn’t let go until March 21. You’re one cold ass bitch, Winter Solstice. And people wonder why I respond with, ‘Word?’ when people tell me that they love the winter…  P.S. I miss Karen!!! P.P.S. #shoutout to all of my people who don’t have to worry about the cold…